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The double-edged sword. What goes up, must come down.

March 2, 2012

Tim has a point. 

He says, “I think that faculties should organize themselves in such a way that they are prepared to politely and publicly decline any awards offered to them based on standardized test scores.”

When we make too much of it when our scores go up, there are no excuses when they go down some years.

And they will. They always do.

But in our case, we couldn’t decline what we weren’t offered.

There is something just so wrong about recognizing only the principal for any measure of school performance.

Particularly our principal.

She never taught the 4th grade about the power of words.

She never engaged the 5th grade in the mystery of numbers.

She never coached a struggling teacher.

She never asks or listens to the advice of a veteran or master teacher.

There is a definite double-edged sword to this awards and honors stuff.

It is at the heart of the critique of merit pay. And of teacher evaluation based on growth measures and test scores.

Individual teachers don’t work in a vacuum. Neither do individual schools. Neither do communities or neighborhoods.

That being said, there is something to learn from our school’s performance on the ISAT.

We don’t do rallies. We do minimal prep. We don’t cancel art, music and PE. There are no banners or buttons.

My colleagues and I teach what we teach. We do it well. And our students do fine.

And we know that a contributing factor can be found in factors outside of our school and outside of our control.

In my favorite Dr. Seuss book, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! Mrs. Bonkers says about the test:

Miss Bonkers rose. “Don’t fret!” she said.

“You’ve learned the things you need

To pass that test and many more – 

I’m certain you’ll succeed.

We’ve taught you that the earth is round,

That red and white make pink,

And something else that matters more -

We’ve taught you how to think.”

I just never stop learning from that greatest of all education scholars.

Dr. Seuss.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 2, 2012 4:32 pm

    When I was starting out, it seemed like all the principals were wizened career veterans. Now that I’m a wizened career veteran, it seems like there’s a whole generation of 5-year teachers running schools.

    I was telling one of our local activists that last year, at a local principal candidate forum, one of the candidates said in response to a question, “Well, we’ll have to tweak the metrics around that and see what we come up with.” My colleague said that he had heard another principal candidate say basically the same thing in a different interview. Tweak the metrics.
    Talk about a vapid, oddly disturbing phrase. Naturally, the metric-tweaker got the job up here in Rogers Park.

    Please tell me that this individual now running your school has used the same phrase. It would make my year.

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